Officine Générale, 106 rue Vielle du Temple, 75003
First impressions: An understated yet well-considered space accented with one-of-a-kind furniture in raw materials, dressing room curtains in dense gray flannel, deliberately lived-in carpets, and rustic wood sculptures — all redolent of a discerning vintage collector’s home.
Purely Paris: The sturdy wood structural beams, staircase posts and pillars — likely dating to the late 16th century — would be unlikely features anywhere else. Exposed and as prominent as the clothes, they speak to the layers of city that are so often concealed. To Mahéo, “It’s logical; whatever you can save, you save, ”he says, having carried out the necessary building studies before breaking through the walls.
Front and center: A large selection of men’s and women’s wear in the brand’s consistently neutral spectrum are presented on custom hammered wrought iron systems while display tables are arranged with pieces in more eye-catching tones. The range of Daily Classics were attracting two English-speaking couples shopping together on a recent visit.
Behind the design: Mahéo and his wife Nina Havercamp source all of the vintage furniture from dealers, antique markets, and auctions, which means that nearly everything is a one-off and that they have the perfect excuse to trawl for treasures. In one recent and rare instance, eager to have a Jean Prouvé table, Mahéo purchased one new and placed it in the inventory room so it will develop the desired patina.
In their own words: “Maybe I always wanted to be an antiques dealer,” Mahéo muses. “I would not claim to be an architect or designer but realizing these stores offers a way to be all of these things.” With six Officine Générale openings slated through ’22, the brand’s founder says he has zero interest in following a template. “For me, this would remove all the pleasure of working on these concepts. These concepts need to live and evolve and there is nothing more boring than to travel from Paris to New York and Los Angeles and see the same shell, the same racks, the same carpets. This is how a store loses its character, its soul. ”